As the AUGS/IUGA joint meeting approaches, I’d like to address our board’s decision to meet in Austin. It has been nearly seven months since Texas signed into law Senate Bill 8 (SB 8), which applies significant restrictions on abortions, impacting reproductive healthcare for women and exposing healthcare providers to litigation risk. The contract for the AUGS/IUGA joint meeting was signed in 2019 long before the actions of the Texas state leadership.
We understand that these circumstances are concerning to much of our membership and community. Some of you have suggested that AUGS demonstrate opposition to this law by moving the upcoming AUGS/IUGA meeting to an alternative location. This is an option that we spent hours reviewing at our board meeting in October of 2021 with deep discussion and many perspectives including a letter from the mayor of Austin and Texas physicians who felt that cancelling the meeting would not send the message that we had hoped and instead would harm a liberal community that opposed the actions taken by the state.
As stewards of AUGS, and collaborators with IUGA, the Board decided it was fiscally and logistically responsible to remain in Austin for 2022. Along with a significant financial loss if we cancelled the meeting, finding a venue that could accommodate a joint meeting would be difficult. The board decided that it was in the best interests of our society to move forward with a hybrid meeting model.
As past AUGS President Holly E. Richter, PhD, MD so appropriately stated in a message to the community in September 2021, AUGS “… strongly opposes any laws and regulations that interfere in the confidential relationship which exists between a patient and their physician. This new law endangers this relationship by giving private citizens the unprecedented ability to interfere in women’s reproductive health decision making. Further, this law virtually eliminates women’s access to evidence-based, comprehensive care and information, and denies women their right to make decisions about their own health.” We stand by this statement and continue to work with other women’s health organizations on this issue.
Your voice and opinions are important. If you have any further thoughts regarding this issue or any other concerns regarding our role in this discussion, please share them with the Board by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is our hope that you will join us for the upcoming AUGS/IUGA Scientific Meeting in June either in person or virtually. The Program Committee has put together another excellent program and it will be great to gather together again to connect with our colleagues and meet new colleagues.
Elizabeth R. Mueller, MD